When Is Art, Not Art?

Adobe Spark

I’ve been doing this jewellery thing now for about 5 years. I’ve been wire weaving since late last year, so not long in the scheme of things. As part of my journey I’ve become a member of many Facebook groups to learn, network and just meet other artists. They’re also fab for inspiration and help. I’ve found most of them to be very supportive, welcoming and warm places, which is great.

Unfortunately though, someone is inevitably going to screw it up. Way back when, I had someone pretty much tell me that my beading work was inferior to her wire weaving because it wasn’t truly handmade and wasn’t artisan because “it’s the equivalent of a kid’s macaroni necklace.”

Wow.

I did have some people tell her off and remind her that unless some thought and design prowess went into my pieces (or anyone’s strung designs, actually) that yes it would look like a kids pasta necklace, but since some knowledge of how colours and shapes work together, and how to balance the piece so it was aesthetically pleasing (not to mention a little knowledge of the technicalities of making a piece that won’t just fall apart) all went into these designs, her point was moot.

The next few years went by fairly uneventfully. I think I actually ended up blocking that woman and just got on with what I was doing, always looking up to the artists I met online who were doing the most incredible wire weaving work. When I finally worked up the courage to try wire work and discovered I wasn’t actually awful at it, I continued to look up to those artists. I still do. I find their work absolutely mesmerizing,beautiful and incredible works of art that I would be so proud to be able to create.

Then it happened. I read a post from someone who creates gorgeous wire jewellery, and she was saying that she has a “friend” who makes silver soldered rings etc and sells them for upwards of $800. This “friend” has told her that what she does isn’t “real” jewellery and that she’s wasting her talents working with wire.

Oh. My. God.

What the hell?!? In my naivete I actually thought that wire weaving geniuses like this lady would never, ever be the target of such snobbery and downright meanness. But, being the person I am, I want to find the “why”of his behaviour. What on earth would possess someone to be so….uppity?

I can understand that a customer might perceive a silversmith’s work to be far more valuable than wire (especially copper wire), because the materials are so much more expensive and it requires specialist, expensive tools. With wire weaving, you just need a few basic tools and a whole bunch of patience.

Wire weaving has been around for thousands of years, but I do know that many of my customers hadn’t even seen wire woven jewellery until I started doing it, so could this attitude be borne of a lack of understanding of the medium? Maybe the guy doesn’t realise that we start with a few base wires and then weave metres and metres of super thin wire around them, and then shape it and sculpt it into beautiful pieces. Maybe he doesn’t understand how much thought and planning a piece takes (or how we have to think on our feet if a wire goes and breaks on us mid way through the design).

Maybe he doesn’t understand the time a wire woven piece can take to create.  A bracelet can take me up to 6 hours to weave, sculpt and form. Sometimes longer, if I’m honest…because I’m still learning.

Or you know what? Maybe he’s jealous. Maybe he knows all this stuff but can’t or won’t do it himself.

It was the comments on the post that got my attention though. Here’s a few examples:

Just make the fart noise with your lips

Wrap on, fellow wrappers

Opinions are like asses, everyone has one!

Enjoy what you do, smile and say ‘that’s nice’ and keep creating. (I personally LOVE the Mrs Brown reference, here!)

If we create, we are artists

In any case, we should be building each other up, not tearing others down. I don’t understand metal smithing so I keep my trap shut about the medium. When does my idea of what art is become unworthy of the title “art” because it differs to what you consider art?

Love,

J

 

 

 

 

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Boxes and bags and tags…oh my!

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I went shopping recently (and no, not on Ebay!). No, I went shopping for packaging supplies. Anyone who has been a customer of mine for a while will know that I’ve been through a few versions of my packaging, including spending stupid amounts of money on white shiny giftboxes simply didn’t suit who I am, but I’ve never really been happy with any of it until now.

When I rebranded to Seven Oaks back in January of this year, I wanted my packaging to be more organic, more natural in it’s appearance.  I love trees (part of the reason for my name!) and all things wooden, so it made sense for me to go with brown Kraft boxes and bags as much as possible. However, buying them individually from Spotlight got expensive fast, and I didn’t want to have to up prices of my items to cover it.

On a recent trip to the local shopping centre, I popped into one of those bargain type stores (it’s called Dollars and Sense here but you probably have something different where you’re from), and lo and behold they had increased their packaging and scrapbooking aisle! Score!

Here’s a little look at my loot:

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I love these little square Kraft boxes, and bonus…they come in packs of three! They will suit my pendants and smaller pieces really well, I think!

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Because I’m really fussy and also wasn’t overly sure on the sizes, I grabbed a three pack of these lovely round boxes too! These are bigger, as you can see, and I reckon they’ll be fantastic for woven bracelets and larger pendants.

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The last time I bought a Kraft box, my piece sort of jiggled around in it, and I got really panicky over the security and safety of the piece. I assume it was fine because I didn’t get an email from the customer saying otherwise, but I was still pretty paranoid. Now that I’m predominantly working in wire woven pieces, I don’t want them being knocked around. I literally tripped over this bag of cotton fill and grabbed it immediately. Pieces will be nice and snuggled in their boxes now, and I won’t be so stressed!

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Looking great so far, but a tad on the plain side. Hubby spotted these adorable little owl stickers (no, they’re not really stickers, they have two sides and are sort of back to back with an adhesive on the very back to make them pop out….scrapbooking folks will know what they’re called) and also some super cute little blue birds. I ended up going with the owls, but now that I’m thinking of it, maybe some blue birds would be good too (Note to self: Put blue bird sticker things on shopping list for next time). 

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I always like to include a handwritten note to my customers to say thank you. I just think it adds to the shopping handmade experience and lets my customers know I’m grateful and am thinking of them. I use the plain back side to write my note. These were too perfect not to be grabbed!

Finally, I just couldn’t resist these little gift bags. They don’t go out with every order, only small, flat ones like rings (which are lovingly wrapped in gift wrap and have a thank you card, etc). I think I’ll stock up on these for when I start doing markets again, too!

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The final look (this is actually going out to a customer today):

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I’m pretty happy with it and yes, it might need a few tweaks here and there, but all in all it’s so much more like me now, too. I think it’s super important that while your packaging should be pristine and professional looking, it needs to reflect you as an artist and should have some of your personality injected into it too. After all, people buy handmade from a person, not a machine or huge corporation. Make it special.